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Not since the invention of the printing press have the people of the world been privy

to so much information. With the invention of the printing press, the Dark Ages

was brought to an end. . . . made the Renaissance and the Age of Reason possible.



Third World CyberActivists

Rattle Oppressive Governments

By Amin Sharif


Once cornered in malarial jungles, dark prisons, and lonely exile, South Asian dissidents armed with computers and modems are winning skirmishes, as they marshal the border breaking internet against autocratic regimes . . . They have raised issues higher on the international agenda and forced countries to give greater weight to human rights and democracy concerns . . .—On-line Activists Step up Fight by Peter Eng (Bangkok Post 1998)

The greatest ally to despots and tyrants throughout history has been silence. But, as the observations of Peter Eng point out, when silence is broken—when the screams from the torture chambers and the cries of the oppressed are heard—a spotlight is focused on autocratic governments that gives them pause and makes them cautious.

During World War II, radio brought news to people from the stark battlefields and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Grainy black and white images of bodies crammed into gas chambers, piled high in prison yards, showed a brutality and death, unheard of, as they moved across movies screens around the world. In turn, American television revealed carpet-bombing along with the agony of a generation of young boys given up to the madness of war in Vietnam.

The result was an American public stunned, shocked, and left asking itself: “Is this all that American power is good for?” Who can forget the image of the young Vietnamese woman—scarred and screaming—as she ran naked down the street? Though, this woman’s image came from a silent photograph, her open mouth shouted a plea for justice that was louder than all the hundred thousand bombs dropped upon villages and hamlets in the name of “American pacification.”

Yet, the modern media with all its effectiveness pales in power—potential power—before the Internet. The modern media has always been used in the interest of big business and the elites who turned it, as much against their own people, as they did their enemies.

Case in point: as America was whipping up frenzy about the atrocities of the Germans, it was doing all it could to suppress any and all information about the lynching of Black Americans throughout the South. When McCarthyism swept over the country, it was the American media that poured it, seeping with innuendo, down up the nation. Never stopping once to ask if any of Senator McCarthy’s raving made any sense, every headline and newscast took up the cause of the “Red Menace” until no one was safe from suspicion.

Of course, there were voices raised in opposition to this frenzy. But these was never a match for the combined force of the American media. When the Red Menace was over, tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens were ruined—among the ruined was the African-American giant Paul Roberson!

The post-modern Internet has changed all of this. Today, thousands and thousands of websites threaten to make the pleas of the downtrodden and oppressed known to the world. And, as I have suggested in my article, NetWar, political leftists—progressives, radicals, and revolutionaries have taken to the new information technology with a vengeance.

Not since the invention of the printing press have the people of the world been privy to so much information. With the invention of the printing press, the Dark Ages was brought to an end. It was the progressive ideas contained in affordable books that also made the Renaissance and the Age of Reason possible. The discourse found in these books almost immediately caused problems for the ruling elites. When Martin Luther’s attack upon the Catholic Church reached the masses, through cheaply printed tracts, in Europe the Protestant Movement was born. Christianity was never the same.

In America, when the slave narratives were published the fledgling Anti-Slavery Movement was given fire—a fire that resulted in the Civil War.  When the screams of the black protesters at Pettus Bridge was heard in the capitols around the world, an American President was forced to come to terms with the reality of the Civil Rights Movement. The rights of the Democratic Age were presented to men not through the good intentions of the oppressor but only when the oppressor heard the screams of the oppressed in his ears and felt their bayonets pressed against his throat.

Fredrick Douglas once said, “Power concedes only to power!” If this is true, then the first power that the oppressed must claim for itself is the power to scream out against injustice. For, in that scream, is an acknowledgement of their humanity, a birth cry that portends the end of the Age of Oppression.

Now that websites are found in every corner of the world how can these cries ever be stifled anymore? Today, it is the cyber-activists of Southeast Asia. Yesterday, it was the Zapatistas of Mexico. What will tomorrow bring? Will a new international movement be born to bleed the capitalist, imperialist power structures to death from a thousand cuts?

Will a new Cyber-Internationale be sung in the ghettoes of the dawning post-industrial world? Will the pc rewrite Maoist dogma stating that political power not only precedes from the “barrel of a gun” but from the click of a mouse? Will Malcolm X’s declaration of freedom “by any means necessary” include revolutionary proclamations sent in the form of e-mails and found on listservs?

Some will, of course, doubt all of this. But the undeniable signs are there. As Peter Eng points out, even in the isolated jungles of the Third World Asia, the Internet has had a profound impact on how the oppressed struggle against the power of oppression:

In fighting Burma’s brutal military government, Lwin Moe used to wear combat fatigues, wield an AK-47 rifle and roam the jungle with the regiment 201 of the All Burma Student Democratic Front. Today, in business jackets and from an office in neighboring Thailand, he is still fighting the same enemy but a very different type of war. His weapons now are two 233 MHZ desktop computers. His battleground is now Cyberspace.—A New Kind of CyberWar in Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, and, Vietnam: Bloodless Conflict! (Columbia Journalism Review, Sept/Oct 1998)

But, it is not simply the contemporary capitalists who are feeling the effects of the new information technology on their political systems. The communists also have to cope with cyber-activism. As, Eng tells us, the government of Vietnam:

. . . maybe regretting its decision to allow Internet service providers to start up . . . The government had worried that many Vietnamese who fled abroad after the communist takeover in 1975 would step up attempts to ferment instability back home. That is exactly what happened . . . The world might have never known of several protests if not for the Internet postings by groups like the Free Vietnam Alliance based in Paris and Insight Vietnam in San Jose, California

For five months in 1998, Eng explains, Vietnam’s mainstream media attempted to deny peasant protests against corruption by government officials. But, when the eyewitness accounts of these protests leaked out over the Internet, the Vietnamese government had to admit that they existed.

It is these cyber-activists ability to expose government corruption, nationally and internationally, that makes them so threatening to regimes of all classes. Sam Rainy—a pro-democracy advocate in Cambodia— was successfully able to “pressure for free and fair conditions for elections” through his party’s home page. And his website was also instrumental in publishing photographs of “anti-government demonstrators and other people” killed by the corrupt Hun Sen regime.

More recently, the London based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA) was able to successfully call for anti-government demonstrations in the politically conservative nation of Saudi Arabia. MIRA  leader, Saad al Fagih, states that he has been able to keep the reform movement in Saudi Arabia alive by the use of the Internet, cell phones, and a satellite radio station.

Democratic and reformists movements of expatriate citizens from autocratic governments are nothing new. National Fronts and Governments-in exile have dotted the political landscape for nearly a century. But what the new information technology has done is make these organizations much more effective and better known than they were some twenty or thirty years ago.

Previously, unless some fantastic event occurred, such as a military coup or terrorist act, most of these organizations remained well under the radar of the average person—even under the radar of other activists working for the same goal. But with the creation of the World Wide Web, anyone who possesses a pc, cell phone, or who can send a fax or an e-mail can become part of an electronic guerilla movement for reform. As Zarni, the leading pro-democracy activist of Burma puts it:

The Internet has not only enabled us to share information, advise one another and coordinate action but has been a shot in the arm psychologically. No feeling is more powerful than to know you are not alone in the fight for justice.

As it stands today, cyber-activism throughout the world is putting tremendous pressure on anti-democratic forces wherever they are found. Environmental, human rights, anti-globalization, indigenous rights workers have all found that the Internet can and does serve their interests in making worldwide reform possible. But more than any of these important movements, it is the pro-democracy cyber-activists of the Third World that may be poised to bring about the greatest change within the world.

For, if they are successful in overthrowing reactionary and autocratic governments, these information-based movements could effectively rewrite the entire political landscape. One can easily envision these Third World cyber-activists seizing power in their respective countries and moving forward to build new, freer, and more equitable nations. 

An alliance of such newly founded democratic governments would, undoubtedly, be a considerable counterforce to the New World Order as envisioned by the world’s only superpower—the United States of America. But, as stated before, these Third World activists will have to survive, flourish, and seize power in their own country before considering their future role in the world. Still, not since the socialist movement of the Industrial Age, has there been any movement as filled with hope and promise as the new cyber-activism found in the Third World today!

posted 2003

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
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#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


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#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 19 February 2012




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Related files: NetWar: The New Threat    We Sing the Revolution Electric!   Notes from the Digital Revolution  Third World CyberActivists  A Post Industrial Blues The World to Come